Playing Monday, October 19th (one Night Only)- Book Now
The Barber of Seville will have you smiling from the moment it begins. Filled with fun and farce, this sunny adventure follows the escapades of the barber Figaro as he assists Count Almaviva to prise the beautiful yet feisty Rosina away from her lecherous guardian Dr Bartolo. Set in an elegant vision of 18th-century Seville, Jonathan Miller’s much-loved production returns to the Coliseum and remains as side-splittingly funny as ever. For this revival, the talented Christopher Allen will conduct Rossini’s sparkling score, packed full of wit and playful tunes.
‘The Barber of Seville’, Live at Movies @ Gorey, from The English National Opera,
Monday, October 19th @ 7.30pm. (From Jim Ryan)
Denis Forman writes of ‘The Barber of Seville’, Rossini’s sixteenth opera, premiered at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, on February 26th, 1816:- “It is probably the most popular and most performed piece in the whole operatic repertoire”.
One of Rossini’s most enduring of all his thirty-nine operas; it has never fallen into neglect, even when his fortunes were at their lowest. It is another of those immortal operas which had calamitous opening nights. Anything that could go wrong did so: Count Almaviva’s guitar for his serenade to Rosina was out of tune, and this occasioned catcalls from which the evening never recovered. The theatre was filled with supporters of Paisiello, who had composed a very successful opera based on the same libretto; they were determined to ensure that Rossini’s version failed and misbehaved accordingly’.
Rossini was in shock, but he need not have worried because within a short time the ‘Barber’ was one of the most popular of all operas. Today it’s performed with heart-warming frequency and is a never ending joy to opera lovers. It is arguably the greatest comic opera of all. Verdi loved ‘The Barber’ because of what he described as its “abundance of true musical ideas” – and not many have disagreed with him. Even Beethoven, never a barrel of laughs, asked Rossini to “write more Barbers”. Sadly, Rossini retired from composing operas halfway through life – no one knows exactly why; perhaps the popularity of Meyerbeer’s barnstorming operas and the rise of Wagner’s more tumultuous music-dramas discouraged him.
Happily, today, as he prophesied, up to twenty of his operas hold the stage worldwide to great acclaim. And I rejoice at that because I believe that Rossini, by his music, brought as much happiness and delight to the world as any composer. Comedy, inspired mayhem, zest and rip-roaring farce are characteristic of so many of his comedies, and the music is just gorgeous. He idolised Mozart, who he said he never tired of, and while the ‘Barber’ may not have the sheer musical genius of Mozart’s opera about the same Figaro, “The Marriage of Figaro”, it is a real musical tonic with lovely arias, duets and ensembles and a delightful plot. Maria Callas’s recording with Tito Gobbi sparkles all through and gives a great taste of the fun, comedy and beauty of this great opera.
The story predates that of ‘Figaro’ – the Count has not yet married Rosina but will succeed in ‘stealing’ her from her ageing suitor/ward, Dr. Bartolo. He will win her hand with the connivance of the wily barber, Figaro, (“Figaro here, Figaro there, Figaro everywhere”!) one of the most lovable characters in all opera.
I could fill pages about the joy that Rossini’s operas and, especially the ‘Barber’ have given me, (including a memorable production a couple of years ago at the Lismore Music Festival), but will merely state: we’re facing in to a long dark winter; a good performance of this opera will put a smile on your face and ‘help shorten the winter’. Not to be missed.